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Community discuss needs, goals

Members of the community came together to discuss the future of the county at the 2019 Carbon County Nonprofit Forum held Wednesday at Blue Mountain Resort.

More than 80 community members representing a variety of organizations spent their day working on skill building, addressing county issues and needs, networking and problem solving.

Amber Breiner, the Carbon County Community Foundation’s executive director, explained the mission is “to improve the quality of life of the residents of our region, staying in touch with current and future needs, giving grants to meet those needs, and helping community members create funds to also meet those needs.”

Breiner emphasized that in order for CCCF to be effective, they need to be tied to a larger set of common goals and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the United Way.

“They make excellent partners. They are focused on the same mission and have a robust community assessment needs process. It’s human service oriented,” Breiner said.

In attendance were Carbon County commissioners, representatives of elected officials, St. Luke’s and Lehigh Valley Health Network and volunteer-run organizations.

Breiner said, “We are working on building bridges. If someone is offering services (such as the United Way) and we can share overhead, grow and have more impact, we are all for that. It’s all about partnerships.”

CCCF’s toolbelt consists of aiding our youth, education, health and wellness, social services, the arts, historical and environmental preservation, and neighborhood and community development. In addition, $104,000 has been invested into Carbon County since 2016, via grants.

The afternoon session was led by Marci Lesko, executive vice president of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

The United Way provides grants to several nonprofits in Carbon County focusing on education, the disabled, the elderly and food access.

Last year Carbon County received $50,000 and Lesko anticipates that this year it will be even more.

Lesko challenged attendees to work in cooperative groups and were tasked with answering the following.

• What are Carbon County’s greatest assets?

• What do we want Carbon County to look like in 2025?

• What do we believe it will take to get there?

Some identified assets as our history and culture, natural resources, our people/pride, and proximity to the Lehigh Valley.

By 2025, they hope Carbon County will become a model of opioid recovery, provide family sustaining jobs, public transportation, and a safety and support net for all.

How do we get there? The consensus of the group was that collaboration and cooperation among municipalities, political officials, volunteers and nonprofit groups is vital to bring about change.

Lesko said, “Doing our work alone is not as impactful as working together.”

She added, “We need to find a community voice from people who live and work here everyday and we need to build on the strengths of our county.”

For additional information on services visit: www.cccfoundpa.org, www.unitedwayglv.org, www.PaCommuterServices.org and www.nepa-alliance.org.

County Community Foundation Executive Director Amber Breiner, left, and Marci Lesko, executive vice president of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. JENNIFER LOBASSO/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS